Austin Stowell (“Battle of the Sexes,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Whiplash”) will star opposite Lucy Hale in romantic comedy “The Hating Game,” based on the runaway hit novel by Sally Thorne.

Presented at the American Film Market by David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment, which is executive producing and handles world sales, “The Hating Game” will commence principal photography on Nov. 21 in Upstate New York.

Peter Hutchings (“Then Came You”) will direct from Christina Mengert’s script. Claude Dal Farra, Brice Dal Farra, and Brian Keady of BCDF Pictures are producing alongside Convergent Media’s Santosh Govindaraju and Dan Reardon. Convergent Media is fully finacing the picture.

Stowell starred opposite Hayley Bennett in “Swallow,” a Variety Critics Pick, with Dominic Cooper and Gemma Chan in “Stratton,” and in Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” anthology TV series.

Headlining “Fantasy Island” with Hale and playing one of Yossarian’s fellow conscripts in George Clooney’s admired miniseries “Catch 22,” Stowell’s feature film credits also take in “12 Strong,” “Colossal,” and “Dolphin Tale 1 & 2.”

“The Hating Game” has already run up substantial first wave pre-sales closing Germany and Austria (Square One), CIS (Volga) and Spain (Twelve Oaks Pictures), among major territories, as well as Benelux (Paraiso), Poland (Monolith) and Taiwan (Vie Vision).

Mister Smith has also closed the Baltic states with ACME, Bulgaria, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary and Romania with Pro-Rom, and former-Yugoslavia with Blitz.

Femeway has taken Greece, United King Israel, Nos- Lusomundo Portugal, and Jaguar the Middle East.

A 2018 USA Today bestseller published in more than 20 countries, Thorne’s book ranks No. 7 in Oprah Magazine’s 20 Best Romance Novels of All-Time. It turns on the kind-hearted accommodating Lucy Hutton (Hale) and her cold but infuriatingly efficient nemesis Joshua Templeton (Stowell).

Entrenched in a ruthless never-ending game of one-upmanship in which Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything, the rivalry becomes impossibly complicated by Lucy’s growing attraction to him, the film’s synopsis runs.

The script is “witty, charming and sexy – everything you would want in a rom com – together with two great leads who have a built-in chemistry, having already starred together in ‘Fantasy Island,’” said Garrett.

“The Hating Game” also taps into a contemporary COVID-19 fueled craving for what Garrett calls “light” releases. “Good escapist fare is the order of the day: People want to get out of their houses and go and have a fun evening out.”

“We are thrilled to be shooting such a fun movie in New York right now!” concurred Claude Dal Farra. “To work with these two wonderful and talented young actors and bring some lightness in these difficult times is such an honor,” he added.

Stowell’s star turn marks news on a Mister Smith AFM slate distinguished by the fact that all its films are either screening – Constantin’s courted star duo of “Tides” and “Wrong Turn” – or in post production like “Lakewood,” starring Naomi Watts, directed by Philip Noyce – or set to shoot shortly: Both “The Hating Game,” and redemption drama “To Leslie,” starring Andrea Riseborough and Allison Janney, which also goes into production on Nov. 21.

“We made a very conscious decision to just focus on films that are either finished or in post-production or really shooting, and in relatively contained environments,” said Garrett.

“Buyers are very wary at the moment of films that don’t have definite start dates,” he added, predicting that when things do open up again “an awful lot of movies are going to be scrambling around for crew and cast.”

Hutchings directed the well-liked “Then Came You,” a teen drama-comedy starring Asa Butterfield, Maisie Williams, and Nina Dobrev. As a screenwriter, he has collaborated with BCDF Pictures on several blockbuster book adaptations, including the upcoming “The Language of Flowers,” which spent 69 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and stars Kiersey Clemons and Nick Robinson, and, prior to that, “Can You Keep a Secret?” starring Alexandra Daddario.

Stowell is represented by CAA and Morris, Yorn, Barnes, Levine, Krintzman, Rubenstein, and Kohner & Gellman.